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Hazel Brown: Young women still at risk
Despite many young women in accessing tertiary education in T&T, co-ordinator of the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women Hazel Brown says many of them still lack opportunities which will make them socially mobile. Brown made the comments as the network launched its project Girl Power: Becoming a woman: safe spaces for women and girls in T&T at the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) headquarters, Alexandra Street, St Clair, last week. The network was the only group in the region which successfully received funding from the IDB/Japan Special Fund Poverty Reduction programme and the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development.
The network has received US$891,000 for the project from the IDB/Japan fund. The Government also injected US $99,000. Brown said the project will be done over the next 30 months. In an interview after the launch, Brown said, “The problem at that end even though the girls are staying in school and finishing tertiary education, if you look at the under gap in pay it is ridiculous.” The last gender income gap that was done by the world economic forum put the average income for a male in T&T at $18,000, and the average income for a woman at $9,000.
Brown said there must be some reason why, even if you are staying in school and doing better, that the men are earning more. “There is a large group at the bottom that is carrying the average down. So the solution to the problem is to reduce the size of the low income at the bottom or increase the earning capacity at the bottom. If we do not focus on the bottom and the ground…all kinds of nice, pretty things can happen at the top there, it is not going to change anything. “It is a very false impression that is created by using the statistics of the ones going forward and not looking at the ones who are being left behind. “A significant number of girls are dropping out of school. There is no data on that. The largest population of childbirth in T&T is still in the age group of 15-19 while in all of the other groups, the fertility rate is declining. “In a lot of cases we know it is the outcome of abusive relationships, situations of violence and forced sexual activity.”
About the Programme
The programme targets 600 girls between the ages of ten to 25 who are at a high risk for physical and sexual violence or pregnancy. Participants will be recruited from Maloney, Princes Town and east Port-of-Spain. They will be educated in sex and sexuality, and physical security modules incorporated into sports and physical activity sessions. They will also be exposed to financial empowerment, a literacy module, and a life and job skills module. The activities will take place in community and health centres, churches and homework centres. Child care services will also be provided to participants in need of it.